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GRAINS-Wheat, corn, soy turn higher on technical buying

(Updates U.S. market activity to close, adds USDA wheat crop ratings)

CHICAGO, March 12 (Reuters) - U.S. grain and soy futures notched modest gains on Monday, with prices turning higher on technical buying after earlier lows, traders said.

Chicago Board of Trade soybean futures recovered from a three-week low and CBOT wheat from a 1-1/2 week low.

CBOT May soybeans settled up 1-3/4 cents at $10.41 per bushel and CBOT May wheat up 1-1/2 cents to $4.90-3/4 per bushel. May corn gained 1/4 cent to $3.90-3/4.

"A little technical rebound underpinned by Argentine (soy) supply shrinking," said Futures International Analyst Terry Reilly.

Drought was reducing yield potential for soy and corn in Argentina and for wheat in the southern U.S. Plains. The weather woes propelled prices for all three crops to multimonth highs last week, before a steep drop that was tied to profit-taking.

Some scorched soy fields in Argentina would be little helped by rainfall that could arrive this weekend.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture after the close of futures trading rated 12 percent of the Kansas winter wheat crop in good to excellent condition, down from 13 percent a week earlier. The USDA rated 53 percent of the Kansas crop as poor to very poor, up from 50 percent the previous week.

Kansas is the top U.S. wheat state. Good-to-excellent condition ratings for wheat improved slightly in Oklahoma and Texas, USDA data showed.

However, wheat supplies globally are record-large and the recent run-up in prices made U.S. supplies too expensive for many importers.

"U.S. wheat is flat-out uncompetitive, so people don't want to get long the Chicago market," Reilly said of CBOT wheat.

USDA earlier on Monday said 389,358 tonnes of U.S. wheat were exported last week, within the range of expectations. Exports of 910,237 tonnes of soybeans also were within expectations while corn exports of 1.4 million tonnes topped estimates.

Soybeans have weakened in recent days, pressured in part by fears of a fall in Chinese demand for North American supplies as trade war threats escalated.

"The threat of China retaliating after higher U.S. tariffs via soybeans has become more vivid," said Tobin Gorey, director of agricultural strategy, Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

Chinese officials have said U.S. soybeans are a prime target for retaliation against tariffs imposed by the Trump administration on steel and aluminum imports, the American Soybean Association said.

(Additional reporting by Julie Ingwersen in Chicago, Colin Packham in Sydney and Sybille de La Hamaide in Paris Editing by Matthew Lewis and Lisa Shumaker)